A Book For Food Allergy Collectors
I’ve been a risk taker my whole life.
I wasn’t taking a risk when I wrote #AllergicToEverything. It started out as a little journal of recipes that were working for me. It was a notebook I kept in my Kitchen.
This is my friend Phil on his 30th birthday (along with a few of the best people ever). He saw my journal and said I should publish it. It was in that moment that I began to see #AllergicToEverything as a book.
This is the original cookbook – with “recipes” misspelled and all. This is also an illustration of why an editor is important to this project. I am dyslexic and tend to spell phonetically.
I sat down that summer and typed up the recipes. The next summer I sat down and decided I should Kickstart it. Then the summer after that I rented a cabin in Willits to finish the recipes. And once I’d finished the recipes, I dreamt of a little more and the guide was born. From shopping to symptoms, to where allergens like corn hide, one-third of the book became a bible of sorts. To write the intellectual stuff I needed a change of scenery so this past summer I sat down and wrote the lifestyle guide, from hotels in London and Germany with my boyfriend. And here we are, in this new summer of 2018, the summer that I finally launched the Kickstarter to fund the first print run.
The book is written. The backers are backing.
#AllergicToEverything is my book-baby. It took me nine months to plan for this Kickstarter and six years to write.
It is over 200 pages long and includes 115+ recipes (from food to beauty to cleaning supplies).
At first, the book was recipes that would work for me, and then it became recipes that would work for anyone avoiding the “top 8.” I grew to have an appreciation for the bold indicators on the labels of our food (required by the FDA to indicate the top 8). I will note that I believe corn should be included on the list and that one day (in our near future) I believe it will be. At the rate at which we pump it into our diets (even feeding it to our cattle), it’ll be no surprise. Perhaps there is a correlation to the way we introduced wheat into our diets with the rates of gluten intolerance, allergy, and sensitivity.
In the end, each recipe will be tailored to be friendly to all of the top 8 food allergens (milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, wheat, soy). The book is now 90% complete, I am still working on the top 8 modifications. My recipes are also free of oats, corn, sesame, and gluten.
I am a Food Allergy Collector, a real live human living with multiple food allergies. I am #AllergicToEverything. #AllergicToEverything was once upon a time something I made for me, and now my dream is to bring it to life for you.
What if I am allergic to…?
If you are allergic to the foods in these two charts, this book is for you.
THE TOP 8: Milk, Eggs, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Shellfish, Fish, Wheat, Soy
AND MORE: Corn, Gluten, Sesame, Oats, Chemical Additives, Preservatives, Artificial Flavoring
What are the recipes like?
Food makes memories. It connects us. My food is made to bring us together, not separate us. I was inspired to make food my friends wouldn’t know was missing allergens. I wanted to share dinner without discussing how we’d managed to share a meal.
Let’s take a look at the Pizza SECTION.
Pizza is (maybe) my all-time-favorite-food.
What else is in the book?
Beyond the Pizza section, there is so much more!
This is the overview of what is in the entire cookbook –
But what are the recipes?
And here, because I want to prove that I have a project worth backing, are the recipes (minus a few that I am planning to add that have recently developed) –
What is the lifestyle guide?
Three Little Bits of Advice
- 10 ingredients or less. When I read a label, if there are more than ten ingredients, I put it right back. If there are less I read it, if I can pronounce the ingredients, it is probably made out of real food. If not, I put it back. I don’t like additives, preservatives, and chemicals in my food. See the video here!
- Don’t trust anyone with your allergens. Unless you know they know. Even my very best friends poison me by using shredded cheese, unknowingly coated in cornstarch to preserve it. Ask all the questions. Ask to see the cheese. I know the brands that don’t use cornstarch, it pisses me off to pay more, but I do, every time. This goes for restaurants too.
- Be prepared. Carry Epi-Pens if you are anaphylactic. Bring along the Benadryl, prednisone, steroid creams if you need it. Learn to sense the reactions as they come on by tuning into how your body reacts and take care of your body when it does react. I am not condoning or prescribing here, just speaking from the experience that I have had. Which is this: I regret it when I don’t have what I need. You can see my food allergy purse here, haha.
How Does Kickstarter Work?
For the price of takeout for two or just a cup of coffee, you can be part of bringing #AllergicToEverything to life. There is no pledge too small, and no pledge to large- the sky is the limit. www.HashtagAllergic.com will take you directly to the Kickstarter page.
If I do not reach my goal, your money will be returned in full. If I do reach my goal, you will get the book in return for your pledge. You do need to use a credit card but I have been backing projects on Kickstarter and I can vouch that they are trustworthy. The money goes directly to the project creator (myself) or right back to you if I don’t hit my goal.
What’s been the hardest part?
I’ve been struggling to share #AllergicToEverything with the online food allergy community. Groups won’t allow me to post about it and most organizations have policies against endorsing “fundraising efforts.” While the media is interested, they say to get back to them when the book is published. I’m contacting new bloggers every day reaching out for help.
I am doing everything I can think of. I have never worked so hard at anything in my life and I am naturally a hard worker.
I’ve tried finding other places to share it, like Nextdoor. That went pretty poorly as well. But every day I get up and I face it. I am strong. I believe in my book. And I want to help people. And I want to be honest about this experience.
Misconceptions have been challenging as well, so I want to take a moment to clear a few things up:
- This project is a passion project, not a financial pursuit. All the money raised goes to the book and to the backers, in the form of a book. A good percentage of the funding goal is based on shipping costs. The other major cost is printing.
- Every recipe will be friendly to all “top 8” food allergens, this includes Milk, Eggs, Fish, Shellfish, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Wheat, and Soy. Additionally, I do not use Oats or Corn in any of the recipes. I am personally allergic to Wheat, Gluten, Corn, Soy, Oats, Eggs, and Shellfish. You can be sure none of these will ever be in any of the recipes. Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Milk, and Fish are included in some (very few) of my original recipes, when published they will be modified to include substitutions (for every top 8 allergens). This is ambitious but I am dedicated and my seven food allergens have taught me a lot. I know I can do this. And I know I have the experience I need to do this. The book is written, and the substitutions are in progress.
- Funded or not, I put everything I have ever worked for on the line for #AllergicToEverything because I believe in it. I don’t like being doubted for having allergies and it happens more often than you’d think. I also don’t like hives, constipation, anaphylaxis, and exhaustion- all symptoms I fight to varying degrees when I consume my food allergens.
One day I will open a box, and there it will be. White, gold embossing, my younger self, looking back up at me from the cover. I’ll open the book to whatever page it chooses and there it will be. A professional collection, woven from comfort and all my love.
Gratitude Makes the World Go ’round
This is Joaquin. He pushed me to move forward with #AllergicToEverything when I lost faith in it. I was tired of trying to find an agent and he believed in me. I wouldn’t have gotten here without him. If it was not for his faith in me, his encouragement every step of the way, and his eye for editing photos, I’m not sure I could have come so far. The people in our lives that love us, believe in us, and push us to be our best are a gift from the universe. Joaquin, you have been a gift in my universe.
I am endlessly grateful to the bloggers, newspapers, and podcasters out there who jumped in and have rallied behind me. Tracy, Kathleen, Red Shoes for Oakley, Landy’s List, Eat Allergy Safe, KALX Berkeley’s Method To The Madness, East Bay Express, The Epoch Times.
I am beyond words to express my gratitude to the backers who believe in #AllergicToEverything.
These are my handwritten thank you notes for the 165 backers to date.
A Letter to the Food Allergy Community
Dear Food Allergy Collectors & Community,
Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure of realizing what a strong food allergy community there is online. During my years of research, I was mostly searching for recipes and food, not realizing that groups and forums existed. Call me nieve but it wasn’t until I started learning about how to market myself online that I got recommendations to look for groups to join. I fell in love with many of your blogs and brands through these groups and forums, which I’ve linked to on my resources page and talk about in my Food Allergy Resources post. Side note: if you don’t see yourself linked there, reach out to me, I’d love to share how you are making a difference in the food allergy community.
One thing I did not and could not plan for was this: the food allergy community that initially embraced me as one of their own, turned away from me. By that I mean when it came time to ask for support from food allergy groups and organizations, the majority said, “no, we can’t [or don’t] endorse fundraisers.”
While I understand groups want to be free of people selling things to them, I hoped that by making it clear that #AllergicToEverything was my story, a resource, and not something that was making me money, I would be allowed to connect with the members.
I reached out to Admins, hoping to get permission to share #AllergicToEverything with Food Allergy Groups. Groups that are meant to allow people to ask for help and exchange ideas. Mainly my requests for permission to share #AllergicToEverything were ignored, a few politely declined or offered suggestions, and a couple (literally two) groups allowed me to share. I waited for responses and then I decided to post anyway. What happened was a positive response from the group members! And then most of the posts were removed.
I hoped that I could share my story, what worked for me. This book is my experience, it is everything I know. It is the result of my personal multiple food allergy journey.
You hold the keys to the community of which I am a grateful member. If you are reading this and you have a forum or group or newsletter that reaches the food allergy community, it would mean a great deal to me if you would share #AllergicToEverything. The Kickstarter will be live until June 17th, this is the link: www.HashtagAllergic.com.
Thank you for the work you do to make life easier for people living with food allergies. It is important. I believe in your mission and I share your vision for this community.
All my love,
My name is Jess and I am a Food Allergy Collector.
#AllergicToEverything is my story, my experience, and most of all a tool for living life with multiple food allergies.